/ 26 October 2006

Official: SADC needs to streamline

The 14-nation Southern African Community (SADC) will have to either streamline or improve norms to meet its 2008 target for a free-trade area, a senior official from the bloc said on Thursday.

”Processes at the border posts, including documentation will have to be improved so that movement of goods will become faster,” said Timothy Thahane, Finance Minister of Lesotho, which currently heads the grouping.

Thahane also underlined the need for ”harmonisation of tariffs and rules of origin, which need to be simplified and made more efficient”.

SADC has set itself ambitious targets for the next 12 years, including an agreement to scrap tariffs on 85% of all goods by 2008.

It plans to have a customs union by 2010, a common market by 2015 and a common currency by 2018.

Thahane, briefing reporters after a SADC heads of state summit held in South Africa on Monday to review progress on the various goals, however, admitted that the proposed customs union posed more problems.

”The reason [the] customs union is going to be very difficult is because we have to start negotiating what kind of a customs union it is going to be,” he said.

”We have to look at collection of revenue and its distribution and many other things,” he added.

SADC groups Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. — Sapa-AFP